The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy

by ddegenha

Part 4: Removing Roadblocks

Chapter 4: Removing Roadblocks

Alright, it's time to get started in the Earth Cave. I mentioned before that I wasn't going to use the Peninsula of Power leveling trick because it's frankly a bit too risky with a single fighter. There's no method currently available for bringing down large crowds of enemies, and you can get in over your head very easily. At this point I'd have to save between every fight and hope that I didn't get steamrolled.

Instead, from the entrance to the Earth Cave we're heading west into a C shaped hallway known as the Hall of Giants. The reason for the name is that every single encounter looks something like this:

For our purposes, this is a perfect place to gain some experience. Giants can hit moderately hard, but they've got no fancy tricks to pull and you're probably not going to see more than 2 giants at a time here. You might need to use some healing potions between battles, but even with a few critical hits one or two giants aren't a threat to a level 13 fighter. The reason that this is called the Hall of Giants is that every single step within the area will result in a random encounter. It conjures up an image of this place being literally packed full of giants who are waiting politely while you fight them in small groups.

The experience isn't bad either. You can get more from encounters in a few other places, but this is simple and easy.

Rather than spend ages grinding here, I just take a walk up and down the hall. At the end, I've gained 3 levels and feel like I can take on the rest of the dungeon without much trouble.

Expanding on the concept we saw last update with the wizards sitting in front of the treasure chest, this cave introduces Earth elementals as treasure guardians. This might have been related to the later "monster-in-a-box" concept, but it's a bit flawed. Only certain squares will have an enemy on them, so chests either have to be set up so you can't avoid that square or experienced players might well skip them. These squares can make for good grinding points if you want to go that way. Earth Elementals are physical attackers, so they're simple to deal with.

They're also worth about 1500 experience all on their own, so I gained a level from the first one I fought. A lot of people dread these encounters, since they're easily capable of doing 70-80 damage even on well armored characters. I looked for every one I could find.

Looking closely here, you'll see a weird phantom image of a door on the lower wall of the cave. This is a graphical glitch that occurs when you open the start menu inside of a door.

The second floor of the cave is made up of lots of interconnected little boxes. It can be confusing to navigate, but an interesting design feature is that all of the corridors have an extra space in them past the door. You can see one on the right hand side of the image. Somebody was thoughtful enough to make sure that you wouldn't go through a long corridor and end up stuck behind a bat.

A few of the rooms, rather than having an enemy encounter square in front of the chest, simply have an enemy at the entrance of the room so that there's no way to avoid it. The downside is that since there's no way for these encounters to be turned off once you've beaten them, each entrance guardian like this is going to be fought twice.

This is a room of the other type. The square with the enemy encounter is to the left of the chest on the right. By the simple expedient of opening the chest from the top or bottom you can completely avoid the enemy.

There's nothing really spectacular as far as treasure goes in this dungeon, just a lot of gold and a useless coral sword. This is the beginning of the third floor, which is about the only dangerous floor in this dungeon. The door you can see in the left hand corner is the objective of this run through, and naturally we're going to have to walk all the way around the edge to get there.

Groups like this are a lot of the reason why this floor is dangerous. All of those enemies can paralyze you, and this isn't even the biggest group I've seen in here. 8 or even 9 enemies aren't impossible.

Mummies are a new enemy that can hit pretty hard and can put you to sleep. Sleep is a bit more of a fragile status than paralysis, so it's more likely to break after a turn or two. It's possible to kill a mummy in one hit, but you can get interrupted by a hit like this one. Those 5 mummies were nearly able to kill me before I took them out.

After a few close calls, we reach the first boss of the Earth Cave, the Vampire. This was before enemies could actually drop loot, so the treasure he's guarding is in the treasure chest behind him. For reference, it's a Ruby.

The vampire here is an interesting case where a boss type enemy becomes an ordinary one later in the game. He's very weak, and a full party will rarely spend more than a single turn on him. It's possible for him to paralyze you with his attacks, but it doesn't happen very often.

He goes down in two rounds and I gain a level from the experience he gives. At this point, I hightail it out of the cave as I don't want to hang around that floor any longer. Un-pictured is a plate behind the vampire's room which can't currently be moved.

The solution to this lies in a cave to the north and west of the Earth Cave. It's possible that you might wander here on your first visit, but you can't get through it. There's some mention in town that a sage called Sarda lives to the west and that "Sarda does not fear the evils of the cave" Somehow this translates to "Go to him when you're stuck."

The reason that going here first would be pointless is this guy. He's a roadblock that won't move until you give him a Ruby, and nothing else will make him budge. It's kind of funny, but you're essentially giving candy to a stubborn child.

Sarda gives us a rod to remove the plate. Part of me can't help but think that the magical device we had to come over here and get was a simple crowbar.

I didn't mention before, but the first trip through the Earth Cave absolutely depleted my potions. I used a third of the 99 I brought in the Hall of Giants and the rest fighting my way through the dungeon. On the way back I ran across these guys and got a chance to observe the interesting phenomenon of an enemy deciding to run away. Enemies do have a morale system in this game, which is mostly affected by the level of your first party member.

On the way back through the third floor I run across another one of the reasons this floor is so dangerous. Coctrice are weak, but have a chance to turn you to stone on a successful attack. I'm not positive on this, but I'm thinking that this might fall into the category of attacks that no piece of armor or accessory can protect you against. The problem is that by the time you get stuff that will protect against stone, cocatrice are so weak that they're probably going to run away.

This is not how you use a crowbar!

The next floor down sees a dramatic increase in the power of the encounters. This actually makes the floor less dangerous than the one before it, since none of the enemies have the kind of status attacks that can end a single character run.

The fourth floor is darker and grimmer, but has a bit of loot scattered around it. An interesting feature is that on this floor they move away from the Earth elementals but go with something that's somehow less threatening.

No riddles involved here, just a couple of simple enemies who have a chance to use a poison attack. Even with two of them, they're still not anywhere near the threat of a single Earth.

Regardless, there's another level in it for me on this floor. That's 6 levels since starting this dungeon.

On the fifth and final floor we have our ultimate boss for the dungeon, the Fiend of Earth. It's kind of sad that these guys don't actually get sprites, but are instead consigned to these balls.

Lich isn't a real problem, despite the hype. He actually has less HP than Solo at this point, and his offense is fairly pitiful. He uses things like Ice 2 and Slow, but it's not going to stop us from simply chopping right through him. All in all, it's actually a bit anticlimactic for a boss battle.

After cutting Lich down, we step forward and get a cool 8 bit scene to show that the Orb of Earth is being recharged. If this were a modern Final Fantasy, there'd be a several minute long cut scene here with an orchestral score.

I said at one point that money would never be a problem again. This is what I had for gold coming out of the Earth Cave after all the loot was sold. Right now, there is only one thing I have left to buy in the game, aside from potions.

Seven. Seven level ups! Ha! Ha! Ha! This takes place on our way back to dear Crescent Lake...

Where this old geezer who sat on his ass the entire time congratulates us on beating Lich and rewards us with a canoe. His dialogue indicates that the Fire Fiend has JUST woken up in the past few minutes, which means that until now his town wasn't in any danger. The second it is, he hands you a canoe and tells you to go and kill a monster for him. Screw that.

Next time: Not the volcano.